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Boise Democrat, former IEA president files for state superintendent

Rotunda at the Idaho State Capitol building on March 23, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)
Otto Kitsinger
Rotunda at the Idaho State Capitol building on March 23, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

Terry Gilbert is a Northwest Nazarene University graduate and former teacher

Days before the candidate filing deadline, the Democratic Party finally has a candidate for superintendent of public instruction.

Terry Gilbert — a Boise resident and former Idaho Education Association president — has filed for the post.

He joins three Republicans in the race: incumbent state superintendent Sherri Ybarra, former State Board of Education president Debbie Critchfield, and Branden Durst, a former Democratic legislator running on the GOP ticket.

If he’s nominated — and he is the only Democrat now in the race — Gilbert would face the Republican nominee in the November general election.

“Idaho’s strong and successful communities start with our children’s schools. I am running to give a voice to the Idaho parents, students, teachers, and support personnel who are weary of those in power failing year after year to live up to their constitutional duty to fund public education,” Gilbert said in a news release Wednesday.

“Too many of our current leaders are asking the wrong questions about education. Their answers result in a standardized test-driven model that suppresses student creativity, initiative, and learning. Our children deserve an outstanding education system that will prepare them to be thoughtful, ethically driven citizens and to have rewarding and well-paying careers.”

A graduate of Northwest Nazarene University, Gilbert began his education career in 1967 in Marsing. He later taught secondary-level English in rural Washington state and in the Nampa School District.

He was elected IEA president in 1977, and later served as the union’s regional director in Twin Falls and Meridian area, and as the IEA’s director of organizational development.

Gilbert’s announcement gives the Democrats a candidate in the one statewide office the party has won in the past two decades, when Marilyn Howard was re-elected in 2002.

Since then, other Democrats have come close to winning the superintendent’s race:

  • Jana Jones captured 49% of the vote in 2006, losing to Republican Tom Luna.
  • Jones again received 49% support in 2014, losing to Ybarra by about 5,500 votes.
  • Four years later, Cindy Wilson received 48% support, losing to Ybarra by about 17,500 votes.

The candidate filing period closes at 5 p.m. Friday.

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state. As longtime Idahoans ourselves, we understand the challenges and opportunities facing Idaho. We provide in-depth reporting on legislative and state policy, health care, tax policy, the environment, Idaho’s explosive population growth and more. Our mission is relentless investigative journalism that sheds light on how decisions in Boise and beyond are made and how they affect everyday Idahoans. We aim to tell untold stories and provide data, context and analysis on the issues that matter most throughout the state. The Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. We retain full editorial independence.